Urasenke Tea Ceremony Honoring the 9th Anniversary of Planting the Ume Tree by H.I.H. Princess Takamado at the Embassy

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June 29, 2018: H.E. Ambassador Dr. Bashir Mohabbat had the extreme honor and pleasure of hosting a Luncheon and Urasenke Ryurei-style Tea Ceremony Honoring the 9th Anniversary of the Planting Ume Tree by Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado, at the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Tokyo, Japan. This rare and exceptional occasion was the first of its kind ever to be held at the embassy.

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The VIP Guests for the event were H.E. Ms. Seiko Noda, Minister of Internal Affairs & Communications, Minister of State for Women’s Empowerment, and Minister of State for the Social Security and Tax Number System; Hon. Mr. Natsuo Yamaguchi, Member of the House of Councillors and Chief Representative of the Komei Party; Ms. Fumiko Tottori, mother of H.I.H. Princess Takamado; Hon. Ms. Akiko Domoto, former Governor of Chiba Prefecture and Review Committee member for the Ministry of Justice; and Ms. Fumiko Misawa, Tokyo's Ikebana International President at the time of the Tree's planting in 2009. The VIP guests joined H.I.H. Princess Takamado for an intimate lunch in the Ambassador's Residence prior to the beginning of the formal ceremony.

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The great atmosphere of the VIP lunch setting was ideal for all those present to discuss the profound auspiciousness of the occasion. H.E. Ambassador Dr. Mohabbat expressed the deep honor it was to be visited for the event by H.I.H. Princess Takamado and further expressed on behalf of the people and Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan as well as himself, wholehearted gratitude and appreciation the steadfast generous support by the noble nation of Japan over the years which forever holds a treasured place in the heart of all Afghans. In return, H.I.H. Princess Takamado thanked H.E. Dr. Mohabbat for his kind words, expressed her delight at being able to enjoy the juice of the fruit from the embassy’s tree she planted 9 years ago, whose fruitful sweetness she likened to the friendship and relations between Afghanistan and Japan. H.E. Minister Noda and Hon. Mr. Yamaguchi promised that Japan will never abandon Afghanistan and would continue its support and friendship. The VIP guests remarked their love for the delicious meal prepared for them, for some of the guests it was their first time eating Afghan cuisine.

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All Diplomats and staff representing the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Tokyo were present in the Maulana Rumi Balkhi Hall to join in greeting the nearly 100 guests invited to partake in receiving the imperial visit and ceremony celebration. Each guest began with a welcome drink of Ume Juice made from the fruits of the tree planted 9 years prior by H.I.H Princess Takamado in the embassy gardens.

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On behalf of the people and Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, H.E. Dr. Mohabbat gave his opening remarks expressing his wholehearted gratitude to Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado for attending the event. Additionally he thanked all the guests for their attendance at this auspicious occasion honoring the 9th anniversary party for the planting of the friendship tree, symbolizing the profound and deep relations between Afghanistan and Japan.

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In return, H.I.H. Princess Takamado thanked H.E. Dr. Mohabbat for hosting this auspicious occasion honoring the Anniversary of planting the Ume Tree, the well-displayed Afghan hospitality provided by the hosts, and the wonderful anticipation for the Tea Ceremony that followed soon after. She intimated her hopes for the continued good relations between the two countries as well as her hope for continued progress towards peace and development in Afghanistan.

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Hon. Mr. Natsuo Yamaguchi gave his remarks about the long time close and friendly relations between Afghanistan and Japan and his hopes for continued and expanded cooperation and partnership. Madam Mohabbat gave remarks about hallmarks of the celebration-- the significance of the ume juice made from the fruit of the honored tree given as a gift to the embassy and planted by the guest of honor; the blue glaze used on the mizusahi (cool water holder) being inspired by the national stone of Afghanistan, Lapis Lazuli; the tulip shape of the wagashi (sweet cake) being based on one of the national flowers of Afghanistan; and the tea ceremony being conducted by people and pottery of Gifu Prefecture where Madam grew up. She additionally thanked the florist for the event, Mr. Takumi Nakayama; the ceramic artist, Mr. Goro Suzuki; glass artist, Mr. Ryoichi Mitsuya; craft artist, Mr. Yautaka Maeda; the printers for the event, Morisaki & Co.; and the koto players of the event, Mr. Ryusei Shikano and his mother.

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Remarks were also given by Urasenke Tea Master, Sōyu Morisaki, who spoke about the Ryurei no temae style of ceremony as well as the chawan cup being used for H.I.H. Princess Takamado's tea. Following her tea, H.I.H. Princess Takamado was then escorted to the Plum tree to view its substantial growth, after which she was escorted indoors to enjoy some Afghan sweets and milk tea while the koto was played and guests served their matcha tea.

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Throughout the event, a giant scroll with an artistically calligraphed circle symbolizing the philosophy of nature's truth, completion, perfection, and balancing of peace. Its message as translated from the artist Mr. Sougen Yamakawa of the Myohozan Shogenji Temple is "the bond between people, and the bond between nations is the same. It is a wish for integration through the display of individuality, just as (this circle) Enso has no restrictions or boundaries." This event which was covered in the media by the Japan Times newspaper, the Gifu Shimbun newspaper, and Gifu Television was a most successful event, enjoyed by all in attendance, and served to further strengthen the ties between the friendly nations of Afghanistan and Japan.

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